Trip stood in the ocean water up to his knees letting the waves hit him in the thighs, as he stared out into the Atlantic thinking about T'Pol. Never in his life had he felt anything close to what he felt making love to her. It was electric. Her smallest sigh or intake of air more than a Human woman's screams or moans sent shivers through him. When she did moan, he swore he felt what she was feeling. Behind him he heard Charles the 4th and Victories the 1st, as Dennis' children were lovingly called. Charles was fourteen months and Victoria was a few days from turning three. Alice, Dennis' wife, and Rebecca played with the kids in the water, not really letting them get past their knees.
"Penny for your thought, space boy," Elizabeth said, as she came up behind him.
"Just enjoying the ocean, Liz," he said.
"You look contemplative, Trip. My brother Trip doesn't let anyone know what he's thinking or that he is thinking, even though his mind is always going. Instead he puts on a show of being the good old boy. Where's the life of the party?" she asked.
"Getting older, I guess," he said.
"Trip, you're only 30. With modern medicine you got a hundred, maybe a hundred twenty, years left," Elizabeth smiled. "Who is she?"
Trip smiled. No one knew him better, at least, no one knew him better now. He had a feeling T'Pol could get to know him better than anyone ever has, if she wished.
"I don't know what you are talking about," he said.
He looked over at his attractive, mousy hair sister. She was no taller than five foot three inches and built like a long distance runner, which she was. He couldn't remember a time when he didn't tower or her, or want to protect her.
"Yes, you do. You have a new girlfriend and one you really like. It's the only time I see you get all introspective so that people notice. I've seen you work out calculations for a warp engine in your head and not be introspective, but some red head from a bar can make you Joe quiet," she said.
"I'm not introspective, just thinking about some things," he said with a smile.
"Whoever she is she must be something to occupy all of Charles Anthony Tucker III's mind," said Elizabeth.
"That's it. It's time you got all wet," he said then turned quickly and grabbed his sister.
He picked her up easily in his arms and tossed her into the oncoming wave. She went under the water and came up splashing soaking Trip and the muscle tee shirt he wore. They both began to laugh. It felt good to be home, Trip thought.
Archer sat in his Ready Room waiting for the comm from Admiral Forest. P'Jem went painlessly and it made Shran and the Andorians very happy. According the V'Shar agents, who were now guests on the Enterprise, they had stopped spying on Andor, or Andoria as they allowed outsiders to call it, months ago and had been spying on Vulcan and the Romulans. According to their intel Romulus had sent another seventy-five ships to join the one hundred that were already there. Another one hundred starships were slated to arrive in three months once they put down a rebellion on the outer rim of their empire. They also had several discs full of intercepted communications that needed decrypting and translating.
"Captain, I have Admiral Forest for you," said Tatupu's voice came over the comm.
He pushed the button and said, "Send him to my Ready Room."
"Aye, sir," he said.
Archer turned and faced the small vie screen on his desk. Admiral Forest appeared.
"Good news I hope," he said.
"Very good news. P'Jem went without a problem," said Archer. "The V'Shar agents there actually had stopped spying in the Andorians and were now spying on Vulcan. They collected some intel for us."
"Was there any hard feelings on their part?" asked Forest.
"Nay. The understood the need to deal with the Andorians," he said.
"I hate to lose valuable piece of surveillance," said Forest.
"Shran is arranging for a diplomatic visit to Andor," said Archer.
Forest smiled, "I have the perfect diplomat for the job."
"Who, sir?" he asked.
"You," grinned Forest.
"Sir, I'm not a diplomat."
"You are what we need you to be," said Forest, "and you will act as a diplomat."
"Sir, someone from the UE or diplocorp should handle this better than a starship captain," said Archer.
"You are handling it, Captain," said Forest emphasizing his rank.
"I'm glad we see eye to eye, Captain," said Forster. "Update when you are supposed to go to Andor for a visit, so I can send the Columbia to take your place."
"The Columbia is leaving dock ahead of schedule?" asked Archer.
"With the Vulcan tech help, the Columbia does warp drive tests tomorrow," said Forest. "Captain Hernandez can't wait to join you out there."
"How about the Atlantis?" asked Archer.
"Six weeks away," smiled Forest. "Captain Robinson is straining at the leash to get going."
"Well, sir, give my best to AG."
"I will, Captain, and best of luck on your new career path as a diplomat," smiled Archer.
The screen went black. Archer sat back in his chair and sighed so loudly that he sounded like a pipe leak.
"Diplomat, yeah, right," growled Archer.
The Tucker Family sat at the picnic table and benches in front of the house. Charlie Tucker was grilling up chicken and steak along with corn and potatoes on the old black grill that was considered an antique by some of their guests over the years. Elaine Tucker was in the house fixing a salad and checking on dessert. Dressed in loose fitting shorts and an Enterprise sweatshirt, Trip sat beside his sister Elizabeth on one bench. He stared past his father at the setting sun and receding ocean, while a light breeze sent a chill down his spine.
"You must be working on something important that they took you off the Enterprise," said Dennis.
Dennis was an engineer for a private company that built luxury star yachts and personnel vessels.
"Top secret project, brother," said Trip.
"It's probably a weapon," said Rebecca.
Rebecca Tucker was Mathematician and College Professor at Stanford. Unlike her other siblings, she had disdain for Starfleet.
"I'm an engineer not a weapon's designer, sis," said Trip.
"After vacation is over for you where are you headed back to San Francisco?" asked Alice, Dennis' wife.
"No, I'm off to live on the moon for a while," said Trip.
"New Berlin, huh?" said Dennis. "I always wanted to visit there. I heard that some people prefer living there than on Earth."
"Well, I won't be living there, though I'll probably visit. I'll be staying at Utopia Planitia, Starfleet's new shipyards," he said.
"Starfleet is spending billions and billions on building a fleet for the sake of conquering. It's shameful considering that money could be better used on refugees from war," said Rebecca.
"Not for conquering but for self-preservation," Trip corrected his sister. "Romulans are an aggressive warrior people, just ask the Vulcans. They don't make treaties; they invade and oppress."
"You make it sound like you and Starfleet are better than the Romulans," said Rebecca.
"Yeah, at least we take prisoners," said Trip.
"Stop arguing," said Elizabeth. "Let's just eat and enjoy ourselves. Trip doesn't visit enough that we should spend all our time haranguing him."
Rebecca shrugged her shoulders and stopped her attack on her brother. Trip grinned at his sister then stuck his tongue out at her when she wasn't looking. Elizabeth laughed.
T'Pol retired early to her room in the Vulcan Embassy. It had been a long difficult day. First, she found out that her mother was a Syrannite and that Syrann believed she had a destiny to help them, and then she discovered through Syrann that she had bonded with Trip. She had bonded with a Human. She changed from her robes into her silk robe, lit a candle, and sat crossed legged in front of the candle and attempted to empty her mind.
She went through her daily process of breathing exercises and mind cleansing, but instead of an empty mind and pathway to deep meditation, she was faced with images of her sexual encounters with Charles. Once again she tried to reach deep meditation and once again she faced memories of Charles. She opened her eyes and stared at the candle. It appeared that bonding between a Human and Vulcan was not only possible, but it could happen spontaneously and without the bond being initiated. T'Pol blew out the candle.
She stood up and walked over the chair at her small desk. Sitting down she turned on her computer then initiated a call to Charles bungalow. She knew that he was home, so she'd be able to leave a message for him.
"This is Captain Charles Tucker. I'm on leave but will be back in several days. Please, leave a message and I'll get back to you when I return," said the image of Charles.
"Charles, I wish to see you when you return from visiting your family. If it is convenient please call me upon your return," said T'Pol.
T'Pol marked the message as urgent then broken the connection. She needed to see Charles, have contact with him. This was probably her nascent bond with him calling for strengthening through touch. She wasn't sure how she was going to inform him of their bond or the fact that being bonded to a Vulcan meant things he needed to be told. Actually, she was sure she was ready to tell about the nascent bond at all. She needed to think about it; she needed to meditate. This was going to be a long night.
The twelve new council members were nothing more than a puppet for Admiral Mendat. His first ordered that they followed was to set a curfew for all Vulcans during this time of unrest. After that he had them outlaw mind melds, as Romulans were unable to perform them and distrusted them. Since it was his task to bring the Vulcan people into line with the Romulan people, he next ordered that the Vulcan open air theatre be used for warrior games. This meant everything from one on one battles between slaves with armed with daggers and sabers to hungry shelats making dinner of captured, unarmed aliens.
He knew that Vulcans hid behind logic, so he was going to expose them to rivers of blood in the hopes to ignite their more feral sides. Mendat also was busy stealing their technology. Romulan ships were capable of warp 5.5, but with immediate upgrades once the space station was completed they would be able to attain warp 7. Praetor would be happy with his work so far on Vulcan.
A centurion entered his new office. He had chosen a conference room and had it redecorated with a blue marble desk, paintings brought from his command ship, decadently comfortable furniture, and the best Romulan Ale and wine in the fleet. This was all in an attempt to bring comfort to him, while he served on this godforsaken planet.
"Sir, I have the scientist you requested," said the centurion.
"Bring him in," said Mendat, as he sat behind his desk.
Two centurions escorted Solaris into the office. They stopped him in front of Mendat's desk. He waved them away. The centurions left.
"You will be placed in charge of the upgrade of Romulan warp drive," he said.
"If I refuse?" asked Solaris.
"I will have ten innocent Vulcans kill a day until you change your mind," said Mendat.
Solaris contemplated the waste of life. If he refused then someone else would end up doing it, but lives would be lost because of him. That was unacceptable.
"I shall do as you ask," said Solaris.
"I love logic. It is so easily appealed to," said Mendat.
He sat up, grabbed a decanter of wine, and poured himself a glass in a crystal glass.
"Care for some wine?" he asked.
"I do not drink," said Solaris.
"You really should start drinking. It helps make difficult decisions into ones you can live with," said Mendat.
"I'd rather rely on the teachings of Surak. Nobility lies in action in name," said Solaris.
"Surak, your savior," smiled Mendat. "Someday I will have to read this Surak."
"I recommend it, Admiral. You may find him enlightening, but at the very least you will come to understand those you oppress on this planet better," said Mendat.
"Oppress," smiled Mendat. "We are not here to oppress you, Solaris. We are here to unify and free our Vulcan cousins."
"Fascinating," said Solaris. "You believe what you say, don't you?"
"Of course," said Mendat.
"Then this is going to end in disappointment for you. We may share genetic similarities, but Vulcans are no longer the feral warriors they were in the past, and if you should revert some of us, you will not be able to handle them," said Solaris.
"We shall see," said Mendat.
Trip tossed and turned in bed. He couldn't sleep. His mind was on T'Pol. In his life he'd been in love once or twice and had been in lust more times than he'd admit, but this felt different. What he felt for her stronger than anything he'd felt in the past. It was almost an obsession, thoughts and images of her kept popping into his head, even when he didn't want them.
He was in the middle of a conversation with his father and Dennis, when his mind had an image of her in a bathtub. By the time he started to listen to his father and Dennis again, he was lost in the conversation. He needed to talk to her; he needed to touch her again.
Getting out of bed, he grabbed his jeans and Enterprise sweatshirt and put them on, and then slipped on a pair of flip flops. Next, he grabbed his communicator and headed in the dark semi-dark of early morning. Walking down to the edge of the water, he used his communicator to send a message to T'Pol. He was shocked when she answered.
"T'Pol, I didn't mean to wake you," he said.
"I was not sleeping Charles. I am having trouble sleeping."
"Oh, I'm not sleeping that well, either. You see I can't get my mind off of you," he said.
"It appears that state of mental confusion is shared," she said.
He had to think about it a moment to realize that she just told him that she couldn't get her mind off of him.
"I need to see you," he said.
"I agree. It would be best, though, if we met in secret. I could arrange hotel rooms, side by side, in a hotel somewhere near where you are staying," she said.
"How about something on the Crystal Coast in Alabama If you wear sunglasses and a floppy hat to hide your ears, no one will notice you," he said,
"I shall make arrangements and forward you the information for two days from now," she said.
"I'll see you then, darlin'," he said.
"And I you, Charles."
Trip shut his communicator then grinned.
Laikan was the capital of Andor. It was also a city where many of their crystalline buildings were made of ice. Before meeting the emperor Shran explained to Archer that Andorians formed a quad, two husbands and two wives, when they married. Shran had yet to join a quad. Emperor Theb Kor and his wife Empress Imaru Kor along with royal concubines Keval and Tyras, who completed the royal quad, met Archer and Shran in one of the non-ice made buildings.
In a room that visually gave Archer a chill let alone the temperature, which was at 15 degrees Celsius. Phlox explained that the Andorian body temperature was 29 degrees Celsius. A Human and an Andorian can find a median temperature in order to meet that both sides would be comfortable. Archer decided that he'd keep his cold weather gear coat on instead of asking for something a little warmer.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Captain Jonathan Archer. You have done a favor by dealing with those insidious Vulcans," said the Emperor.
"I am glad to be of service to you," he responded.
"It seems that we may have a common enemy and I don't mean the Vulcans," said Theb with a laugh. Everyone in the royal chamber laughed, which included ten Andorians and Archer.
"The Romulans are conquerors by nature it is only a matter of time before they start making the Alpha Quadrant their own," Archer said.
"Maybe so, I do not wish to discuss such matters. That is why I have underlings. Tonight you shall dine with in a feast, but the rest of this day you will spend with General Igrilan Ghorev and Commander Thy'lek Shran of the Imperial Guard," said the Emperor.
"I look forward to the feast," said Archer.
The Emperor laughed at this comment, as did the Empress and the royal concubines.
"Yes, I like that. I look forward to the feast. You would considering you have to listen to those blowhards all afternoon," said the Emperor. "I look forward to talking to you further, Captain Archer."
The Emperor and his party stood and everyone else bowed. With fanfare and leisure they left the royal chamber. Once they were gone Shran looked at Archer. His antennae were facing each other which was a sign of amusement.
"You did well, Pinkskin," said Shran. "You'll find General Ghorev a more difficult audience."
"Lead on, Shran," said Archer.
Trip made his visit short with his parents. He promised he'd visit again then he rented a hovercar and headed off to Mobile, Alabama and a hotel on the Crystal Coast. Pushing speed laws, Trip arrived at the hotel, parked his hovercar, and grabbed his bag. He headed into the hotel. Stopping at the front desk, Trip checked the reservation.
"The name is Charles Tucker," he said.
"Oh, yes. Your friend already checked in. She is in 808 and you are in 806," said the clerk. "Do you need someone to help you with your bag?"
"No," said Trip. "Do you need anything from me?"
"No, sir," he said then he hand him a data pad. "Please punch in your code for you door. It will be processed by the time you get it."
Trip automatically punched in his command codes then he nodded and was off to the lift to the 8th floor. Getting off at the 8th floor, Trip quickly made his way to his hotel room. He let himself in then dropped off his bag. Now he was working completely on primal instincts. He had one goal and that was T'Pol.
Leaving his room, he walked next door and knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" asked T'Pol's calm voice.
"Me, Trip," he said.
He took a deep breath and exhaled, as he felt nerves starting to attack his system. T'Pol opened the door. She was dressed in a light brown Vulcan robe. Whatever he intended to say escaped his mind the moment he saw her.
"Charles, I am glad you are here," she said.
"So, am I," he said then stepped into her personal space, took her in his arms, and devoured her mouth.
He wasn't sure what to expect, but he was happy when she returned the kiss with equal passion and intensity. Slowly, Trip walked them into her room. He had no intention of wasting any more time. Trip turned and locked the door. When he turned back and noticed that her brown robe was now pooled around her feet. She was standing there naked.
"Damn, I missed you, darlin'," he said.
"Charles, you are wearing too much clothes."